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Sun, 19 Nov 2017
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Health & Wellness

Magic Wand

Stem cells heal young boy's potentially fatal skin disease

© Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Stem cells
Complications of the little boy's genetic skin disease grew as he did. Tiny blisters had covered his back as a newborn. Then came the chronic skin wounds that extended from his buttocks down to his legs.

By June 2015, at age 7, the boy had lost nearly two-thirds of his skin due to an infection related to the genetic disorder junctional epidermolysis bullosa, which causes the skin to become extremely fragile. There's no cure for the disease, and it is often fatal for kids. At the burn unit at Children's Hospital in Bochum, Germany, doctors offered him constant morphine and bandaged much of his body, but nothing - not even his father's offer to donate his skin - worked to heal his wounds.

"We were absolutely sure we could do nothing for this kid," Dr. Tobias Rothoeft, a pediatrician with Children's Hospital in Bochum, which is affiliated with Ruhr University. "[We thought] that he would die."

Comment: See also: Stem cell therapy: The innovations and potential to help repair and regenerate your body


San Diego's hepatitis A outbreak continues to grow, but rate of new infections slowing

Though the case count in San Diego's ongoing hepatitis A outbreak increased again Monday, officials said that the number of new infections continues to slow.

In a presentation to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, showed a chart that indicated there were 31 cases in October, significantly fewer than the 81 reported in September and 94 in August which saw the largest total of the outbreak so far.

After seeing the chart, board chair Dianne Jacob had a to-the-point question.

"Is it getting better, the same or worse?" Jacob asked.

"We feel it's getting better," Wooten replied.

Comment: Previously:

Life Preserver

Smell may be the future of diagnostics: Groundbreaking breath tests could detect up to 17 diseases

A little girl in Malawi blows into a bag while a researcher collects her breath. The sample of her breath will be sent back to a lab at the University of Washington in St. Louis, Misouri where it will be tested for scent-compounds of malaria using a new diagnostic technique
Smell may be the key to a future of more accurate, cheaper, non-invasive diagnostics tests for everything from malaria to cancer to Parkinson's disease.

Scientists in Israel are working on a breath test that they say can detect as many as 17 diseases. Meanwhile, a US-based team is testing their device for identifying the breath signature of malaria in Malawi in Africa.

The two developing technologies both use comparisons of chemical compounds found in healthy breath to the compounds found in the breath of someone with a disease.

Though neither version is ready for clinical use, the scientists beyond each hope that smell-testing can soon make diagnostics a painless and far cheaper process for patients.

Comment: See also: Breath analysis can reveal various diseases


Scientists to use immunotherapy to treat schizophrenia

© Pixabay
UK scientists have begun testing a radically new approach to schizophrenia treatment. In the course of the next two years, 30 patients will get infusions of the so-called monoclonal antibody drug each month, which will target their immune systems. Radio Sputnik discussed this new method with professor Olive Howes.

According to the researchers this new treatment will help target the root causes of schizophrenia in a more fundamental way than current therapies do because the focus is on the way brain cells react to the immune system of the body.

In an interview with Sputnik, Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in South London said that currently doctors are using a method to block chemical dopamine from getting released into the patient's bloodstream, but sometimes it fails to address all of the symptoms of the illness.

"If the illness isn't treated it can sometimes lead to death. More often actually it is individuals ending their own lives, so they are much more at risk of that. But what is radically new about our approach is that instead of just blocking the downward consequences, we are trying to target the upstream causes. Particularly the immune system," Howes said.


Dementia has overtaken heart disease as the UK's biggest killer

© geralt / Pixabay
Dementia is now Britain's biggest killer, overtaking heart disease for first time new figures have shown.

Some 70,366 people died from Alzheimer's disease and dementia last year compared to around 66,076 deaths from heart disease.

In 2015 heart disease was the biggest killer with 69,785 death, while 69,182 people died from dementia.

The switch is being driven by the ageing British population, combined with improvements in heart health, as more people are prescribed statins and beta blockers to cope with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Charities have called on the government to double its annual £132 million dementia research funding over the next five years. Projections suggest that 1.2 million will be living with dementia by 2040.

Comment: The current epidemic growth in dementia may be linked to decades of misguided advice which have advocated low-fat diets as well as mainstream medicine's obsession with cholesterol lowering drugs. Researchers are discovering that both fat and cholesterol are severely deficient in the Alzheimer's brain. Fat and cholesterol are both vital nutrients in the brain; the brain contains only 2% of the body's mass, but 25% of the total cholesterol.


Blood plasma and the fountain of youth

Blood has always been known as "the Gift of Life" and a growing number of Bay Area researchers are currently trying to isolate a factor in blood that may turn back the hands of time.

"We don't know how soon we're going to defeat aging," proclaimed Aubrey de Grey. "We should be able to keep people truly in a youthful state of health, no matter how long they live and that means the risk of death will not rise."

De Grey is the Chief Science Officer and Co-founder of the SENS Research Foundation in Mountain View. He believes we can grow biologically younger.

"The risk of death will remain the risk of death from causes other than aging - like being hit by a truck," explained De Grey.

SENS funds a dizzying array of projects, research and clinical trials. The Bay Area is packed with bio scientists looking at solving the healthy longevity puzzle.

Comment: There have been rumors of this practice throughout history. It's becoming more mainstream now.


Study finds serotonin linked to increased anxiety

Around 100 million people around the world take antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft. However, few are aware beforehand that antidepressants can worsen anxiety in the first few weeks of use. Until recently scientists have found the side-effect mysterious.

Now, though, they have identified an anxiety circuit in the brain that responds to serotonin.

The study's findings help underline the fact that serotonin does not just promote good feelings, despite what many think.

Comment: So the drugs make things worse, so the answer is to make a different drug? Maybe there are other options:

Microscope 2

Sleep deprivation stops brain cells firing properly, changing how we see the world

Brain cells fire more slowly and stop encoding memories efficiently, UCLA found Credit: UCLA
Sleep deprivation stops brain cells communicating properly and affects how people see the world around them, a new study has shown.

The new research, which has serious implications for driving while tired, shows that parts of the brain actually turn themselves off to rest even though a person is still awake.

Brain scans of sleep deprived people by scientists at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have shown for the first time that fatigue disrupts the speed the brain cells communicate and prevents memories being encoded properly. It also causes temporary lapses in memory and vision.

Life Preserver

The Alzheimer's antidote: using a low-carb, high-fat diet to fight Alzheimer's disease, memory loss, and cognitive decline

What exactly is meant when Alzheimer's disease is referred to as Type 3 diabetes? Amy Berger answers this question in her book The Alzheimer's Antidote where she has synthesized what we know about Alzheimer's disease (AD) to lead us closer to the cause: a fuel shortage in the brain. How and why this occurs is explained in the book, with dietary and lifestyle changes to counteract the process.

Metabolic syndrome is a known risk factor for AD. Insulin resistance is a factor in both and causes higher blood levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia). Glucose is the brain's primary source of fuel. A marker for Alzheimer's disease is a reduction in the rate of glucose metabolized by the brain. In some, the reduction has been found to be 45 percent and is always localized to areas of the brain involved with learning and memory. As the brain cells become less able to metabolize glucose for fuel, they starve. Berger notes that some researchers have found this to be the predominant abnormality in AD.

Comment: See also: Ketogenic Diet Reduces Symptoms of Alzheimer's


Early parental intervention techniques could substantially reduce symptoms and developmental delays of autism

Very early treatment of infants with the first signs of autism can substantially reduce the symptoms such that, by age 3, most have no developmental delays, a new study finds.

'Infant Start' is the name of the new behavioural therapy, mostly delivered by the children's parents, developed by autism experts at the University of California - Davis and Duke University in North Carolina.

The results of a pilot study of the therapy have just been published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Rogers & Ozonoff, 2014).

Comment: In addition to behavioral interventions, it would be wise to investigate any physical issues that may contributing to the symptoms: